|approaching Independence Tower |
in Monument Canyon
Upper Monument Canyon Trailhead: on Rim Rock Road in the Colorado National Monument, 8.1 miles from the park's west entrance.
Lower Monument Canyon Trailhead: Follow Grand Avenue from downtown Grand Junction west where it turns into Broadway and crosses the Colorado River. Continue on this road 8 miles through a neighbrhood and past many intersections (the road becomes Highway 340) until you reach a small dirt road marked with a sign for Lower Monument Canyon. This turnoff is notoriously easy to miss so be alert. There is a small parking lot here at this popular trailhead.
The route Otto established on Independence Monument is still the easiest and standard route today. Named after its developer, Otto's Route is a four-pitch, 5.8+ Grade III. It is one of Colorado's few notable sandstone towers.
The main trail is one of the more popular routes in the Monument. The trail contours along the western cliffs of Monument Canyon. The usually dry creekbed is almost always far below and away from you. The trail can be accessed from either the upper trailhead off Rim Drive or from the Lower Trailhead off Highway 340. The lower trailhead is popular for casual day hikers and is also the normal approach to Independence Monument and the climbs of the lower canyon. A fun day trip is to start at the upper trailhead and hike through to the bottom with a vehicle shuttle.
From the lower trailhead, it is 1 mile to the first climbing wall where the popular First Dihedral route is located. The second main wall comes around 1.3 or so and Independence Monument is at mile 2.3.
Here are just a few of the routes in the Monument Canyon area:
Tower (by easiest route):
Independence Monument (4 pitches, 5.8+, Grade III)
Kissing Couple (5 pitches 5.11a, Grade III)
Pipe Organ (5 pitches 5.11+)
Sentinel Spire (3 pitches 5.10)
Get a Life (Clueless Tower) (5 pitches, 5.12c, Grade III)
Right Dihedral (1 pitch; 5.9)
Out of the Fryingpan (1 pitch, 5.9)
Route 2 (1 pitch, 5.9)
Route 4 (1 pitch, 5.9+)
Desert Solitaire (6 pitches, 5.11a A1, Grade III)
Circle, Square, and the Triangle (5.10a)
Wingate Warrior (5.11a)
Higher Mind Dynamics (5.11)
Friends Cant Be Trusted (5.12b)
(note: there is a bolting ban in the Monument. For full climbing regulations please check this link to the National Park Service website.)
A topo of the main wall in Lower Monument Canyon:
The routes in this photo:
1- Circle, Square, and the Triangle [Sport, 100 feet, 5.10a] **
2- Luhr's Route aka Right Dihedral [Trad, 90 feet, 5.8+] **
3- Higher Mind Dynamics [Sport, 100 feet, 5.11] *
4- Friends Can't Be Trusted [Sport, 110 feet, 5.12b] **
5- First Dihedral aka Left Dihedral (first pitch) [Trad, 50 feet, 5.8+] ***
6- First Dihedral aka Left Dihedral (second pitch) [Trad/aid, 70 feet, 5.10+ C2 or 5.12a] **
7- Carter Route [Trad, 100 feet, 5.9] *
8- Euro Route [Trad, 100 feet, 5.11 (class 4 scramble just to get to base)]*
This is only a small sample of the climbing in the area and there is likely still potential for development in the Canyon's hidden corners (which are numerous). This place is vast; the more effort you are willing to put in the more you are going to get out. For a deeper discussion of the trad and sport climbing in Monument Canyon check out the Mountain Project link in the external links section.
Monument Canyon is within the borders of the Colorado National Monument. Check with the National Park Service for special regulations One important rule for climbers is that bolting is no longer allowed within that canyon except to replace old dangerous hardware. The addition of new bolts is forbidden. Season raptor closures also affect several walls. Check with the National Park Service to find out when they are in effect.
What Does Independence Mean to You?- A weekend climbing in Unaweep and the Colorado National Monument, including a day at the Lower Monument Canyon slabs and an ascent of Otto's Route on Independence Tower.